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Rare Disasters and Risk Sharing with Heterogeneous Beliefs

Hui Chen

Massachusetts Institute of Technology; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Scott Joslin

University of Southern California

Ngoc-Khanh Tran

Washington University in Saint Louis - John M. Olin Business School

October 18, 2011

AFA 2011 Denver Meetings Paper

Risks of rare economic disasters can have large impact on asset prices. At the same time, difficulty in inference regarding both the likelihood and severity of disasters as well as agency problems can effectively lead to signiffcant disagreements among investors about disaster risk. We show that such disagreements generate strong risk sharing motives, such that just a small amount of optimists in the economy can significantly reduce the disaster risk premium. Our model highlights the "latent" nature of disaster risk: the disaster risk premium will likely be low and smooth during normal times, but can increase dramatically when the risk sharing capacity of the optimists is reduced, for example, following a disaster. The model also helps reconcile the difference in the amount of disaster risk implied by nancial markets and international macro data, and provides caution to the approach of extracting disaster probabilities from asset prices, which can disproportionately reflect the beliefs of a small group of optimists. Finally, our model predicts an inverse U-shaped relation between the equity premium and the size of the disaster insurance market.

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Date posted: March 18, 2010 ; Last revised: September 2, 2013

Suggested Citation

Chen, Hui and Joslin, Scott and Tran, Ngoc-Khanh, Rare Disasters and Risk Sharing with Heterogeneous Beliefs (October 18, 2011). AFA 2011 Denver Meetings Paper. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1572665 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1572665

Contact Information

Hui Chen (Contact Author)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( email )
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-324-3896 (Phone)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Scott Joslin
University of Southern California ( email )
Marshall School of Business
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
Ngoc-Khanh Tran
Washington University in Saint Louis - John M. Olin Business School ( email )
One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1133
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.olin.wustl.edu/EN-US/Faculty-Research/Faculty/Pages/FacultyDetail.aspx?username=ntran
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